2005: Competition - Wie wows, but week belongs to Ogden
Michelle Wie, the 15-year-old sensation, will not be competing in next year’s Masters.
Instead, Clay Ogden, a little-known 20-year-old who couldn’t make the BYU golf team’s traveling squad all spring, will be competing side by side with the world’s best at Augusta National Golf Club next April.
That script played out last week when Ogden defeated Martin Ureta, 1 up, in the 36-hole final July 16 to win the 80th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Shaker Run Golf Club.
Ogden will be one of five amateurs in the 2006 Masters.
“Playing at Augusta is going to be unbelievable, just being there with the crowds, the atmosphere,” said Ogden, who played in only five events, three as an individual, for BYU last season. “You always talk about being there, playing there. I never thought I’d be playing there before being a pro, but here we go.”
Ureta, 19, of Santiago, Chile, said that, while disappointed, he would take a lot of positives out of the week.
“Even though I lost today, I played well and I think I’ll take a lot of confidence out of here,” Ureta said.
“The first nine holes today I was feeling very comfortable, hitting well and making putts. Then Clay started playing well and making birdies. He made birdies and I didn’t, and in the finals of the Public Links you have to make birdies.”
Ureta had five birdies on the day and Ogden had nine, including four over the final nine holes, with three in a row on Nos. 15-17.
Wie was making history at this championship from the start as the first female to compete in a men’s USGA championship. But her main goal – just like the 155 men in the starting field – was to complete the week with a victory and gain that Masters invitation.
Throughout the week, Wie’s presence attracted APL record crowds – about 1,200 during stroke-play qualifying – and worldwide media. By comparison, when the two finalists began the final 18 holes, the gallery was less than 75.
Wie certainly gave the gentlemen at Augusta National Golf Club something to sweat about early on. She nailed a 6-iron from 180 yards to 10 feet and made the birdie at the 18th hole to beat Will Claxton of Swainsboro, Ga., 1 up, in her first-round match. In the second round, she won the first five holes – three with birdies – and breezed to a 6-and-5 triumph over C.D. Hockersmith of Richmond, Ind. Then Wie made three birdies over her last six holes to close out Jim Renner of Plainville, Mass., in Round 3.
Fittingly, though, it was Ogden who derailed the Wie train with an impressive 5-and-4 victory in the quarterfinals.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed,” Wie said, “but it’s not the end of the world. I don’t feel I have to prove anything going into any week. I just go out and play the best I can.
“I learned a lot from the whole experience. You have to make a lot of birdies and give your opponent no chance.”
Against Wie, that’s exactly what Ogden did. He won the first two holes with birdies, went 4 up with birdies at Nos. 4 and 5 and made the turn in 5 up when Wie pulled a 155-yard, 7-iron approach shot on No. 9 that hit a tree and bounced back into the water hazard, leading to a bogey. Wie won No. 10 with a par, but Ogden came back to win 11 with a birdie, and the duo matched pars over the next three holes before the match ended.
“Today was one of the most fun days of my life in golf,” said Ogden, who got into match play by surviving a 10-man, three-hole playoff for seven spots. “I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet, but this is a definite change in direction for my golf career.”
Ogden – who defeated University of Wisconsin junior Garrett Jones, 4 and 3, in the semifinals – took an even bigger turn when he charged from behind to defeat Ureta, a junior at North Carolina who was an honorable mention All-American last season.
It took Ogden 34 holes before he landed his first lead in the final. It came when Ogden hit a wedge shot to 2 feet on the 16th hole for birdie, and Ureta missed a 12-foot birdie try.
“I made a lot of crucial shots all week,” said Ogden, who trailed after nine holes in four of his six matches, “but that shot at 16 was really needed. . . . Under the circumstances, it was probably the best shot I’ve ever hit.”
Both players birdied the par-5 17th. At the 420-yard, par-4 18th, both missed the fairway right and from the rough hit over the green, where the pin was tucked tightly in the back right. Ureta, from 20 feet, pitched to within inches for a conceded par. Ogden, from 18 feet, added suspense as his chip shot came up 21/2 feet short. Facing the biggest putt of his life, Ogden boldly rammed in the putt.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever been as nervous as I was looking over that chip shot (at 18),” Ogden said. “I just didn’t want to fluff it and leave it in the rough. And that putt, it was the longest 2-footer I’ve ever had in my life. It seemed forever long.”
About as long as it will probably seem until next April and his date with the Masters.